A Website for the World’s Materialists

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_49/b4206041266912.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5

Web entrepreneur Joseph Einhorn’s new site, The Fancy, is about what it sounds like: a collection of beautiful stuff. It’s an invitation-only photo blog where more than 5,000 tastemakers and celebrities upload and tag images of their possessions, as well as the baubles they’d like to own. Actor Ashton Kutcher showed off a Leatherman multitool the other day; the magician David Blaine recently added an image of a Leica M9 camera.

It’s a simple concept, and a window onto Einhorn’s complex goal of building an online “catalogue of everything in the world,” as he puts it. The Fancy is the outward face of Thingd (pronounced Thing D), the company Einhorn, 29, founded in June 2009. “Where Google is an index of websites, and Facebook is a database of people, we want to be the database of everything,” he says.

Thingd is backed by a who’s who of investors, including venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, investment bank Allen & Co., and MTV founder Bob Pittman. Twitter creator Jack Dorsey and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes sit on the board. They’re betting that Einhorn, a New York City native who joined the financial information company Capital IQ at age 16 and built much of its technology, can mint money out of data once again. (Standard & Poor’s (MHP) acquired Capital IQ for more than $200 million in 2004.)

Thingd’s computer servers constantly crawl tens of thousands of product-rich websites, such as J. Crew (JCG) and Best Buy (BBY). When the program comes across an unfamiliar object—whether it be a shoe or a stapler or a truck—it collects an image, extracts whatever related facts it can find, and then adds the item to the database. So far, the crawler has identified more than 100 million items, and it aims for as much specificity as possible—a white 1999 Ford Explorer, for instance, rather than just an SUV. The Fancy is a crowdsourced supplement. When people upload photos to The Fancy, says Einhorn, “they’re just training our database.” The database becomes smarter over time—once it’s seen several pictures of, say, a chandelier, it starts to recognize the same chandelier in other pictures, even when no identifying information is available.

Thingd plans to turn its data into revenue by raking in affiliate fees, the small sums retailers like Amazon.com (AMZN) pay Web sites when they refer visitors that end up making purchases. Einhorn hopes to partner with media websites such as Vogue.com, which could use Thingd’s technology to automatically identify products in photos and provide information about them to consumers. Thingd would share the affiliate fees if links lead to a purchase. The company could also help private buyers and sellers of secondhand goods find each other and take a cut of the transactions (á là eBay).

Thingd has built an iPhone app for The Fancy and plans to open the stylish playground to the masses within the year. Board member Hughes says that despite being a “really simple” website and invitation-only at the moment, The Fancy “is moving through Twitter, moving through Facebook, and moving through blogs at the rate that you like to see.” Sasha Charnin Morrison, the fashion director at Us Weekly, says it’s a hit with her staff: “We love the presentation of it.” Hughes suggests that the success of location-tracking applications like Foursquare and social networking sites proves that there’s an audience for The Fancy. “If I can keep track of where I am physically in a city and if I can keep track of what my friends are doing,” he says, “then I want to be able to keep track of the stuff that I have in my life.”

Thingd isn’t the only company to spot this opportunity. “The field of entity tagging is exploding,” says Roger Ehrenberg, a New York City-based venture capitalist. Other startups, he says, are also working to categorize real-world objects. Einhorn says he’s thrilled by the competition because it means Thingd is at least playing the right game. An online catalogue of stuff is “going to happen,” he says. “The question is, ‘Can we be there?'”

The bottom line: Thingd is categorizing the world’s stuff, and plans to make money off affiliate fees and transactions of secondhand goods.

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A New Wave Of Erotic Mags Blur The Line Between High-Style and Smut

http://pipeline.refinery29.com/news/erotic_mags_blur_the_line_betw.php

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Let’s face it: Nothing sells quite like a little sex. Just take a look at pretty much every recent high-end editorial (it’s art!), ad campaign (it’s provocative!), or just about anything shot by Terry Richardson (it’s Terry!) where Sex is more than just mere innuendo. With the lines between fashion, eroticism, and porn becoming less and less clear, it seems perfectly on point for a sexy slew of stylized skin mags to arouse new curiosity. Time to take note of these high-end purveyors of T&A.

Check them out after the break. NSFW (unless you work here)…
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Paradis Magazine

This biannual “magazine for the contemporary man” is for those who enjoy a bit of intellect along with their erotica. As expected, it’s packed with Juergen Teller snaps and interviews with artists Damien Hirst and John Currin, as well as tastefully nude images of catwalkers like Lily Cole and a pregnant Eva Herzigova.

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Jacques Magazine

The newest flesh-heavy fare, this fashion-conscious erotic mag has a no-airbrush policy and steamy shoots that remind us of classic-yet-cheeky ’70s porn pub Oui.

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Butt Magazine

This pocket-sized homoerotic quarterly has seemingly changed the face of gay porn. There’s still plenty of good old-fashion skin time but with the added benefit of clever interviews, artful photography, and a healthy dose of humor.

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S Magazine

This smut-meets-art glossy bi-annual’s sexed-up super-sized Issue Number 9 (with guest curators MD70) made us swoon with its Bardot and bondage-themed spreads and enough skin to make it way more naughty than your average fashion mag.

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Purple Sexe

While Purple Magazine is already known for frequent skin-centric editorials, its supplemental index Purple Sexe—which arrived with our Fall/Winter issue—celebrates a steamy, less-clothes-and-more-skin aesthetic.

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